For many years I have wanted to try my hand at wood turning, but I did not own or have access to a lathe. Well, a few moths ago, I broke down and bought a cheap midi-sized lathe from Harbor Freight, along with a set of gouges. I have been playing with it in short bursts, between other projects, since then, and I am just now getting to the point where I am beginning to be proud of the pieces I am producing.
And just what am I producing? Wands. Hand turned, wooden, magic wands, which I intend to sell in my shop.
Although I had wands in the back of my mind all along, my initial interest which prompted me to purchase the lathe was in producing pens- hand turned exotic wood executive style ink pens. If you have been to any gaming or hobby conventions like GenCon or ComiCon, you've probably seen people selling turned wood pens in one of the market booths. They are a fairly common and popular item among the kind of cottage industry woodworkers who make things like jewelry boxes and dice cups. And they are not cheap! Some of the exotic wood blanks for making these pens, in raw form and not including the pen hardware, can cost over $20 for a 3/4 square by 6 inch long stick. That's twenty bucks for a piece of raw wood the size of a piece of peal and eat cheese!
My second attempt at making wands gave me trouble at first, as the work piece would start to vibrate a lot while I was tapering the long shaft of the wand. Afraid I would break the piece again, I decided to just turn handles and add the shaft as a second piece made from a tapered hardwood dowel. So I made a dozen or so handles, usually two at a time, all from scrap lumber. I saw a good bit of improvement, but my skills were still fairly primitive.
I now have nearly a dozen single piece wands, finished or nearly so, and about a dozen wand handles that I will finish eventually once I solve my drilling problem. I will probably throw out a few of the handles and maybe a few of the early single piece wands. I'm finally making pieces I am proud of, and some of my earlier attempts, though I was happy with them at the time, look sad in comparison. In fact, I just went out to Amish country and bought some moderately priced hardwood scraps and a few upgrades to my tools. I'm about to take my game to the next level, and who knows, maybe in a month or two I'll be ready to buy some of those exotic woods!
And now, the glamour shots of my first batch of finished wands.